Game of the Day: Pirates at Cardinals

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Updated: August 10, 2015

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals (OFF, OFF)The Pittsburgh Pirates experienced their fair share of heartbreak in their first four games against the St. Louis Cardinals, but spent most of the rest of the first half of the season getting payback. The teams with the two best records in the National League will resume their rivalry on Tuesday when the visiting Pirates try to trim a five-game gap in the Central against the league-best Cardinals in the opener of a three-game set.

St. Louis (71-49) swept Pittsburgh at home to begin May, registering three straight one-run extra-inning victories, and opened with a road victory against the Pirates the following weekend. Pittsburgh (65-44) rebounded by winning that series and claimed five of the next six meetings to level the season series, even stealing the final three – the last two of which were also decided in extra innings – before the All-Star break. The Cardinals’ pitching staff saw their 38-inning scoreless streak come to an end in Sunday’s 5-4 loss at Milwaukee, which also snapped St. Louis’ four-game winning streak. The Pirates took advantage of the Cardinals’ rare setback, however, inching closer to their division rival after completing a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday. 

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, MLB Network, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSN Midwest


LINE HISTORY: N/A

INJURY REPORT:
Pirates: Guerra (15-day DL), Burnett (early September), Mercer (early September.), Harrison (late August), Hart (60-day DL), Lambo (60-day DL), Cumpton (out for season). Cardinals: Holliday (15-day DL), Jay (15-day DL), Walden (60-day DL), Belisle (60-day DL), Wainwright (60-day DL), Adams (60-day DL).

WEATHER REPORT: Currently, the forecast is calling for a clear night in St. Louis with temperatures ranging in the 81 degrees Fahrenheit ballpark. At the time of writing, winds of 7 mph blowing in from left field were expected at game time.

WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Pirates offense has been inconsistent this season, but they definitely heated up this past weekend, scoring 5 runs or more in all four games while sweeping the L.A. Dodgers. Pittsburgh’s offense will now be put to the test in this brief two-game home series against the Cardinals. The St. Louis pitching staff has been great all season and they enter with three shutout wins in their past four games. This game should have a playoff atmosphere as the Pirates look to cut into the Cardinals’ five game lead in the N.L. Central division.” Covers Expert Steve Merril

WHAT ODDSMAKERS SAY: “This is a huge series for these teams and we’ll have no shortage of action on it, especially as bettors get back in gear ahead of football season. Pirates come in to this with a head full of steam but based on the pitching matchup. We opened the Cards as -160 chalk at home. I’m guessing that will close a bit higher as we’ll have clients starting to fade the Bucs until they lose. They haven’t been great on the road and we know St. Louis is dynamite at Busch.” John Lester of bookmaker.eu.

HOT FAN WAR:

PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates LH Jeff Locke (6-6, 4.31 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Carlos Martinez (11-4, 2.57)


Locke continued his recent struggles in Wednesday’s 7-5 win over the Chicago Cubs, failing to factor into the decision after surrendering four runs – including a pair of homers – in 5 2/3 frames. The 27-year-old New Hampshire native has yielded at least three runs in each of his last four turns and failed to complete six innings in each of his previous three outings. Locke took the loss on July 9 after giving up four runs (one earned) in five innings against St. Louis, falling to 2-3 with a 3.55 ERA in seven career starts versus the Cardinals. 

After going 11-4 with a 2.34 ERA through his first 20 appearances (18 starts), Martinez turned in his second mediocre start in a no-decision on Wednesday, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks over five innings at Cincinnati. The 23-year-old Dominican allowed five runs and 10 hits at home versus Colorado on July 30 – an outing which concluded a month in which he went 2-1 with a 2.03 ERA. Martinez has split a pair of starts against the Pirates this season, including a 7 1/3-inning gem to get the win on July 9.

TWEET BEAT:

TRENDS:

*Cardinals are 6-1 in their last 7 games vs. a left-handed starter.
*Cardinals are 12-2 in Martinezs last 14 home starts.
*Over is 4-0 in Pirates last 4 overall.
*Pirates are 5-1 in the last 6 meetings.

COVERS CONSENSUS: N/A


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